I will always wonder

who you might have been

without your mental illness,

if we could have been closer,

if you could have loved me

for who I am.


I will always wonder


your life might have been different

if you’d been diagnosed younger,

gotten medication,

and been open to therapy,

how much richer and fuller

your life would have been,

how much deeper your relationships,

how much bigger your world.

Fewer burned bridges.

Less monologuing,

more listening.

(The time your phone broke

and you could only send messages

but not receive them,

that was the perfect metaphor for your life.)


I don’t believe you were a bad person

but I don’t believe you were a great father.

At least not past my 13th birthday.


You were beloved anyway

as evidenced by the large attendance

at your funeral.

Still, it hurt to see so many faces missing.

People you had offended or scared off

in the last years.

It still wasn’t fair.

After the endless phone calls

and hospital visits

to so many church members,

you spent weeks and weeks

in the hospital

with hardly any visitors.

The man who had supported everyone else

(sometimes to the detriment

or at least extreme annoyance

of his family)

was left alone.


I know it was embarrassing for you

to feel so alone,

to be the youngest person

in the nursing home.

It was embarrassing for us,

your lack of an inner censor,

telling sexual stories at a funeral,

melting down without warning.


I don’t know if I will ever make peace

with the father I wanted and didn’t have.


As you lay dying,

I just kept wanting

you to get out of bed

and take me to the movies

or mini golfing.

I wanted my buddy back.

I will always miss those days.

I still watch movies

and think about

which parts you would have thought

were awesome,

which of my art house films

you would have found strange.


I will always miss parts of you

while still feeling relief

you are gone.


Rest in peace, Dad.

You deserved a better life.